月別アーカイブ: 2021年3月


April 4th Is the Birthday of Okinawa Prefecture! Celebrate with Traditional Okinawan Awamori!

April 4th Is the Birthday of Okinawa Prefecture

Okinawa Prefecture is known as one of the most popular resort areas in Japan. It has a unique atmosphere which is distinctly different from that of the rest of Japan in terms of language, cuisine, arts, etc.

Ryukyu Kingdom was ruled by the Sho kings from the early 15th century until its incorporation into the Empire of Japan as Okinawa Prefecture in 1879. The kingdom was special in that they had no standing army and survived by trade and diplomacy alone. The area they were situated in was quite unsettled but they managed to establish strong trading routes stretching from Siberia to Siam.

An independent kingdom and tributary state to China for several centuries, the Ryukyu Islands came under control of the Satsuma domain (current Kagoshima Prefecture) in the 17th century. The Sho family continued to reign for 270 more years, even after their independence was gone. Satsuma still allowed the Ryukyu Kingdom to find itself in a period of “dual subordination” to Japan and China. The Ryukyu Kingdom was still paying tribute to China, and during Japan’s 250 years of isolation, the kingdom was Japan’s main avenue of international trade.

As Japan was moving into the era of a new modern state after the end of isolation, in 1871, the new Meiji government abolished the han (domain) system, and on April 4 in 1879, a proclamation was issued officially abolishing the Ryukyu domain and establishing Okinawa Prefecture, which is said to be the origin of the birth of Okinawa Prefecture.


Celebrate with Awamori

Awamori is an alcoholic beverage indigenous and unique to Okinawa, Japan. It is made from long grain indica rice, and is not a direct product of brewing (like sake) but of distillation (similar to shochu).

Awamori owes its existence to Okinawa’s trading history. The technique of distilling reached Okinawa from Thailand in the 15th century, when Okinawa was as a major trading intermediary between Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. All awamori is made from Thai rice. The Okinawans refined the distillation process, incorporating techniques from nearby countries, making it more suitable for the subtropical climate and incorporating the unique local black koji mold.

The awamori we recommend is from Shinzato Shuzo, which is said to be the oldest existing Okinawan distillery, inheriting traditional method and spirit from 170 years ago. Ryukyu Awamori Kariyushi has a refreshing aroma and crisp taste, but is also rich in flavor and slightly sweet, making it popular among women and Awamori connoisseurs of all ages. The name “Kariyushi” is Okinawan dialect meaning “call for celebration”, and we sure think this awamori is great for celebrating!



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Have You Ever Been to Shimane Prefecture? It’s the Birthplace of Sake!

Have You Ever Been to Shimane Prefecture?

Stretching along the San-in coastline bordering the Sea of Japan, Shimane prefecture defies easy categorization. Although accessible easily from Hiroshima, the prefecture nevertheless still feels remote, and is one of Japan’s least visited. Rural traditions and pristine landscapes remain untouched for centuries thanks to efforts to preserve the region’s cultural heritage. If you had a chance to visit Shimane, you have probably been to the famous Izumo Taisha.

Izumo Taisha is one of the most ancient and important Shinto shrines in Japan, and it has been said that all the deities throughout Japan gather once every year and hold meetings here in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture. Every year during October, based off the lunar calendar, gods throughout Japan travel to Izumo to conduct their annual conference and take this path to the shrine. In this region, this time is called kamiarizuki or “month of the gods”, when festivals are held in their presence welcoming them to the Izumo region.

The area of Shimane is also said to be the birthplace of sake. This widespread belief is based on myths about sake’s ties to Shimane’s Izumo region recorded in the Kojiki. The first mention of sake in the Kojiki, an early-8th century chronicle of Japanese legends and oral traditions based on historical accounts, tells the story of how the god Susanoo used eight buckets of sake to kill the gigantic eight-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi at Izumoto save the village.


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Have You Tried Sake from Shimane Prefecture?

While enjoying famous dishes of Shimane prefecture, such as Izumo soba or freshwater clams, you might have had a cup of Shimane produced sake, and it might have been from a brewery called Rihaku.

Rihaku is based in Matsue, Shimane prefecture, and they make several types of sake, at least one for each occasion. The diligent effort and great skill of toji (head of the brewery) and kurabito (brewery workers) are evidenced by the many gold medals the brewery won in the New Sake Tasting Competition.

Rihaku Junmai Blue Purity is made with a recently developed rice Kannomai, which is only used in Shimane prefecture. Kannomai means “god dance”, and you can almost imagine how Shinto Gods enjoy this sake while dancing and partying at the annual conference at Izumo Taisha. Rihaku Junmai BLUE PURITY has a quite complicated flavour such as a combination of Matsu pine resin, roasted chestnut and a touch of honey and bitter cacao. Dryness and umami of Kannomai rice is perfectly balanced, you can easily drink one cup after another. Drink chilled or slightly warm.




Introducing New Products from Hokkaido Based Craft Brewery Abashiri Beer!

Brewery Introduction

Abashiri Beer is a craft beer brewery located in Abashiri, Hokkaido. Founded in 1998, Abashiri Beer are the one of the major proponents of ji bīru, (literaly “local beers”), which arise from the tourist trade.

One of the features of their their beer brewing is that they use a three-kettle system, which is rare among Japanese microbreweries. By using the traditional German brewing method of decoction, part of the mash is boiled in a separate kettle. The boiled part is then added back to the mash to achieve the required temperature rise. This provides richness and flavor making a truly tasty beer.

In addition, taking advantage of the three-kettle system, a multitude of ingredients can be used, including such “interesting” ingredient as scallops, corn starch, milk, purple potatoes. “It’s all about the balance and selection of malt, hops and yeast. We brew our own beer using an unprecedented variety of sub-ingredients, based on the idea that a beer that is unique and makes the most of local products is truly a local beer,” says the brewery.


Abashiri Golden Ale

ABASHIRI Golden Ale is characterized by its beautiful pale golden color and attractive aroma. The ingredients used include local Abashiri barley malt and several varieties of German malt, giving it a clean taste with the original malt flavor and a hint of sweetness. The hops used are a variety with a mild aroma and a refreshing bitterness reminiscent of citrus peel. The brewing process is the “step infusion” method widely used in the United States and the United Kingdom, the home of craft beer. The result is a simple, yet addictive taste.



Abashiri White Ale

A unique and luxurious white ale made from “Kita no Honami”, a wheat grown in Abashiri, which produces a luxury white ale like no other. Orange peel and coriander seed provide a citrus scent that harmonizes with the mellow flavor of the wheat. Because of the non-filtration process, this style is rich in vitamin B contained in the beer yeast, which is said to be good for beauty and health, making it a popular genre among people who don’t like beer and women.




March 27th Is International Whisky Day! Celebrate with UMESKY!

Where Did International Whisky Day Come From?

International Whisky Day was first announced on March 27 2008, then officially launched in 2009 at the Whisky Festival Northern Netherlands, in the presence of various whiskey writers.

This was an initiative to honor the whisky connoisseur and writer, Michael Jackson (not to be confused with the famous singer). He was well known for his writings on whisky and was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. His whisky-loving friends wanted to not only celebrate his love for whisky but also help find a cure for this difficult disease, so each year whisky fans donate money to charities of their choice. Since Michael’s birthday was March 27, the date is a tribute to him.

On this day we invite every whisky lover to raise a glass and celebrate the greatest drink in the world, as well as honor the unsung heroes of the industry from today back to when it all began.

Fun Facts About Whisky 

ffThe word whisky comes from the Gaelic language, where it was called uisce beatha (literally “water of life”). Later the name was shortened to Uisce and then the pronunciation slowly changed over time to whisky.
ffBoth the “Whisky” and “Whiskey” words are correct. Whiskey is specific to Irish, and Whisky is Scotch.
ffA closed bottle of whisky can be kept for more than 100 years and it will still be good to drink. After opening, it will remain good for around five years.
ffUnlike the Scottish whisky producers that trade barrels with each other to obtain the ideal flavor for each whisky they create, Japanese whisky makers rarely trade casks with one another due to how competitive the market is.


How to Celebrate International Whisky Day

The most obvious and practical way to celebrate this holiday is to either to sip on a favorite variety of whiskey or to try a new one! If you prefer the latter, we have a unique recommendation that is perfect for the occasion.

Umesky is a unique blend of whisky and ume fruits. Every July unripe ume is steeped in the whisky made in the distillery, slowly drawing out the sweetness and sourness of ume. Ume is harvested in Toyama prefecture and it is steeped for around a year in the whisky. The result is hard to describe but the delicate aroma of ume and the smooth whiskey are the characteristics of Umesky. At the first sip, you will feel the acidity of ume (which is a little bit stronger that regular umeshu), and then the smooth taste of whisky will follow soon after.

There are many ways to drink Umesky. The best way is to enjoy it straight or on rocks, but you can also try diluting with water or soda water, or even hot water. We recommend enjoying Umesky on its own first, but if you want to try paring it with foods, choose something that is not too overpowering in flavor.





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Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Is Here! Try Japanese Koshu Wine!

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Is Here!

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, run by Food and Wine Victoria Ltd. is an event held in March annually since 1993 to promote Melbourne and Victoria’s food and wine culture.

The festival’s charter is to promote the produce, talent and lifestyle of Melbourne and Victoria, and to promote Melbourne as the “food and wine capital of Australia”. Since its beginnings with a small program of events, the festival has grown to become known for events including cooking classes and large ‘banquet-style’ lunches.

If you’re planning to attend the festival, why not have a continuation of the festival at your home with a glass of wine? We think that Japanese wine would be perfect for this occasion!

Lunch at the World’s Longest Table, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Melbourne, Victoria © Daniel Mahon

Recommended Wine

Marufuji is a well-established winery with a history of more than 100 years, founded in 1890 by Jisaku Omura in Katsunuma, Yamanashi Prefecture, and has been striving to produce world-class wines.

In his book “Wines of Japan” Hiroshi Yamamoto, who is known for writing many wine books, says, “There are two wineries that are the real champions of Katsunuma wine, or rather, you cannot talk about Katsunuma wine without mentioning them”. One of them is Marufuji, and we agree that this winery is definitely not to be missed out.

Our recommendation is Rubaiyat Koshu, which is made from 100% Koshu, a Japanese grape variety grown in Yamanashi Prefecture. It has a brilliant yellow color, a perfect balance of rich acidity and fruitiness. It is a dry wine with a clean, refreshing and straightforward taste. Balanced and charming, this is a very food-friendly wine, especially with Japanese cuisine and fish dishes.

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It’s Saint Patrick’s Day! Celebrate With the Green Matcha No Osake!

It’ Saint Patrick’s Day!

Saint Patrick’s Day is the anniversary of the death of Patrick, the Saint who spread Christianity in Ireland. This day, March 17, is a Catholic holiday and a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland.

The Irish tradition of celebrating this day goes back centuries, but it was officially declared a national holiday in 1903, and gradually spread to other parts of the country after independence from Britain.

On St. Patrick’s Day, you will see three-leaf clover designs everywhere. This is the national flower of Ireland, called the shamrock. It is said that St. Patrick used the shamrock to preach the “Trinity” (God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit) and spread Christianity.

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, many events are held around the world, especially in Ireland, with green as the theme color. Parades with green coordinated bands, green beer, rivers and fountains dyed green…the world is green!

For those who wish to try something “new and green” this St. Patrick’s Day, we have just the perfect product!


Recommended sake

Located in the famous Fushimi sake district in Kyoto, Yamamoto Honke has been involved in sake brewing for over 300 years. The head of the family has been inheriting its first name ‘Genbee’ and is currently in its 11th generation of Genbee.

Fushimi, Kyoto is located to the south of the Kyoto basin and is a groundwater reservoir that has been flowing for many years. The “Shiragikusui water” that is used by Yamamoto Honke for sake brewing is low in iron and contains an appropriate amount of minerals which give it a rich taste and a mellow aftertaste.

Yamamoto Honke is a long-established firm, yet is always on the pursuit for innovative ideas, and one of their more well-known creations is sake based liqueur. Matcha No Osake is simply a blend of quality Junmai grade sake and quality Matcha from Kyoto Uji area. The taste is sweet but well balanced with bitterness of Matcha. It is also great to drink as dessert.

The deep green colour comes naturally from the premium quality Uji matcha, and no flavorings, preservatives, or acidifiers are used, so you can enjoy the pure matcha taste!

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Have You Ever Been to Wakayama Prefecture? The Top Ume Brand Comes From There!

Have You Ever Been to Wakayama Prefecture?

Wakayama Prefecture is located on the Kii Peninsula in the Kansai Region of Japan. The prefecture is known for Mount Koya, which is home to one of the first Japanese style Buddhist temples in Japan and remains a pilgrimage site and an increasingly popular tourist destination. Wakayama is also home to Nachi Waterfall, which is one of the most famous waterfalls in Japan. With a drop of 133 meters, it is the highest waterfall in the country with a single, uninterrupted stream of water. Wakayama’s coastline, stretching almost 600 kilometers also provides scenic beach getaway experience.


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While visiting these famous spots and enjoying the specialty dishes of Wakayama, such Wakayama Ramen or Meharizushi,  you might have also tried Kishu umeboshi on top of your rice, or mikan as a dessert. Wakayama is also as known the Kingdom of Fruit, especially mikan (a kind of citrus) and ume (Japanese apricot) are famous. All Ume lovers know Kishu Nanko Ume, the top ume brand in Japan. This is because it has an utmost quality, with thin skin, small seed, and soft flesh. The Nanko Ume originated in Minabe, Wakayama. Nanko Ume is used for various products which bring out the goodness of Ume, such as umeboshi, ume extract, ume confectionery, and, of course, umeshsu.

One of the top umeshu makers in Wakayama is Nakano BC. They also has a well-developed, onsite tourism department. The company has a Japanese garden on the factory grounds and offers tastings and factory tours, where visitors can see the actual places where each step takes place from preparation to pressing and storage and learn about the brewing processes. You might have visited the brewery during your trip to Wakayama, but if not, we definitely recommend doing it during your next time to Japan.  In the mean time, you can enjoy their premium quality umeshu at the convenience of your home!

Recommended Umeshu

Nakano BC uses a superior quality Nankō ume to make its umeshu. To preserve the delicious flavor of ume, the brewing tanks are managed by a team of skilled workers who carefully check the acidity and sweetness of umeshu, mixing the fruit and changing tanks as necessary. The umeshu is ready after around a year and a half.

Their best selling product is Nakano BC Yuzu Umeshu, which  is a unique blend of yuzu juice, extracted from fruits in Shikoku Island, and umeshu liqueur. Kochi prefecture in Shikoku island is the number one producer of yuzu in Japan. This blend is sweet and refreshingly sour with a subtle bitterness.

Enjoy the taste of the top-quality Wakayama ume!




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The Best Selling Sake of February – Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi 720ml!

The best selling sake in February was Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi 720ml!

Kyoto based Kizakura Brewery is one of Japan’s top sake producers. The brand even became synonymous with sake in Japan in the 1980s thanks to a series of TV commercials featuring the mythical creature Kappa, which is also the brewery’s mascot.

黄桜株式会社 | クラフトビール・地ビールの情報、レビューサイト beer365[ビアサンロクゴ]

A fantastically affordable sake for drinking every day, Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi is a staple in Japanese restaurants, and for good reason. It is a mellow and soft sake. If you’re new to sake this is a fantastic choice, as it develops different characteristics at different temperatures, allowing you to explore your own palate.

Yamahai Jikomi is made using a traditional slow fermentation technique process at low temperatures with extra time and care. This gives this sake rich flavour and semi dry taste with a good amount of acid. Kizakura Yamahai is the perfect food sake that goes well with any Japanese dish.

Kizakura Yamahai Jikomi wins awards every year thanks to their decades of experience, coupled with an endless passion for reinvention and innovation, and it’s no surprise this is one of our best selling items!

A must try for all sake fans!

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Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo – Have a Glass of Akita Sake!

Brewery Introduction

Saiya Shuzo is a sake brewery based in Akita, northern Japan. Founded in 1902, the Saiya brewery is a hidden gem in the sake world. The brewery won twelve gold medals and three silvers at the Japanese National New Sake Competition in the fifteen years between 1990 and 2008. This makes them the fourth most-awarded brewery at the competition.

The brewery has always put a strong focus on using their own in-house yeast and milling rice properly. They have been cultivating their own yeast for more than 30 years, and the yeast they have selected over the years gives Yuki No Bosha its original flavor and stable quality. From the selection of top-quality sake rice and highly precise milling technique right down to the bottling and shipping, the brewery meticulously monitors every step of the sake brewing process to ensure an exquisite balance of flavours in its sake.

Click on the banner to watch the introductory video!



Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo

Yuki No Bosha is the most well-known brand from Saiya Brewery. It is known for its pronounced aroma, silky and balanced body, clean acidity, and rich umami. Yuki No Bosha which literally means “Cabin in the Snow,” is a celebration of the northern, Akita region of Japan. Rustic, rugged and rural Akita prefecture is cherished by the Japanese for its lively festivals, tranquil winter and delicious sake.

Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo is one of the best products from this brewery. Bottled without an addition of water, and without filtration with charcoal/micro-paper, Yuki No Bosha sake has a rich and bold flavor, laden with pleasant acidity. It is a superb sake that has ripe fruit tones including strawberries and mangos that dance in a silky and clean flow. The softness of this Junmai Ginjo and the vivid acidity are muted by a fruitiness without being sweet. This is the perfect sake for those looking for a fruity experience but don’t want too sweet!




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